Retail licence and wholesale notification
The retail sale of tobacco products and nicotine-containing liquids is subject to a licence and their wholesale to a notification. However, for an operator holding a tobacco product retail licence granted under the old Tobacco Act, the retail sale of nicotine-containing liquids at the same sales outlet is subject to a written notification. Sellers must apply for a retail licence to the local authority in the municipality where the point of sale is located or, in the case of retail sale by the means of transport, in the licence applicant’s municipality of residence. Wholesale notifications must also be made, in writing, to the local authority in the municipality where the point of sale is located. The simplest way is to submit the abovementioned licence application or the notification electronically (N.B. only in Finnish or in Swedish).
The local authority charges retail licence holders and parties that have submitted wholesale notifications an annual supervisory fee per point of sale according to an annually agreed tariff. The supervisory fee is no more than EUR 500 per point of sale. For operators that sell both tobacco products and nicotine-containing liquids, the supervisory fee will be no more than double the usual amount (EUR 1,000 per point of sale).
The supervisory fee for valid retail licences and wholesale notifications is billed on 1 January for the year in question. If a retail licence is granted or a wholesale notification submitted in the middle of the year, or if an activity is pursued for less than a year, the local authority may charge a supervisory fee that is proportional to the duration of the operations.
In case of questions related to retail licences or wholesale notifications, such as notifications on discontinuation of activities that require a licence/notification, contact the local authority that issued the licence.
Information on the holders of retail licences and the parties that submitted a wholesale notification can be found in a public register of retail licences and wholesale notifications.
No licence is required for the sale of other products referred to in the Tobacco Act, such as smoking accessories or tobacco substitutes. However, the provisions of the Tobacco Act concerning self-monitoring and the marketing ban, among others, must be complied with.
Rules to be observed in sales
It is prohibited to sell, supply or pass on tobacco products and liquid nicotine to persons under 18 years of age. This ban also extends to the commercial sale or supply of tobacco substitutes, smoking accessories and electronic cigarettes. Sellers of products referred to in the Tobacco Act must have a self-monitoring plan in place for each point of sale in order to effectively perform age screening in sales.
Any person engaged in the commercial selling of tobacco products, tobacco substitutes, smoking accessories, electronic cigarettes or nicotine-containing liquids must be at least 18 years of age. However, a person younger than that may sell the aforementioned products if supervised by a person who is 18 years of age or older. Tobacco products, tobacco substitutes, smoking accessories, electronic cigarettes or nicotine-containing liquid may not be sold or dispensed from an automatic vending machine.
Tobacco products, tobacco substitutes, nicotine-containing liquids, electronic cigarettes and their trademarks must not be displayed in the retail sale of tobacco products, tobacco substitutes, smoking accessories, tobacco imitations, electronic cigarettes or nicotine-containing liquids (see Display ban). The products referred to in the Tobacco Act must also not be marketed (see Marketing ban). Only products complying with the Tobacco Act may be sold to consumers (see Product control), and the retail packaging of the products must also comply with the Tobacco Act (see Unit packets). Chewing tobacco, nasal tobacco and tobacco for oral use may not be sold, supplied or passed on.
Distance sales of tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, nicotine-containing liquids and herbal products for smoking (transition period until 1.11.2022) are prohibited. Therefore, these products cannot be sold over the Internet, phone or by other means of distance communication. This applies to both domestic and cross-border sales. It is also worth noting that a private person may not acquire or receive the said products from an economic operator by mail, freight or a comparable means from countries outside Finland (see Import).
Tobacco products, herbal products for smoking, electronic cigarettes and nicotine-containing liquids may not be sold at customs auction.
Under the Tobacco Act, the points of sale for tobacco products, tobacco substitutes, smoking accessories, nicotine-containing liquids and electronic cigarettes must display a clearly visible sign (in Finnish or/and in Swedish) concerning the age limit:
“It is prohibited to sell tobacco products, tobacco substitutes, smoking accessories, electronic cigarettes and nicotine-containing liquids to persons under the age of 18.”
The sign must be displayed so prominently that customers will be able to read it effortlessly when purchasing. You may print out the Valvira specimen of sales ban sign for your own use.